DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, recently released documents that he says show the efforts by the Biden presidential campaign in 2020 to get Twitter to block an exposé on Hunter Biden’s laptop — which included compromising pictures.

There were immediate claims that Twitter had denied people’s First Amendment rights by doing so. But, the suggestion of denied free speech isn’t factual.

The U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amanda Martin, the supervising attorney for Duke Law’s First Amendment Clinic said that the First Amendment says nothing about the policies of corporations.

“It is a restriction on government regulations, not private industry and not private people. And so, I think one big takeaway would just be that fundamental understanding that the First Amendment only deals with government control,” she said.

Contrary to what some may think, social media companies aren’t bound by law to publish what you want them to. Just as if you write a letter to the editor for your local newspaper, there’s no guarantee they’ll publish it. You have very little control.  

“And so, you have no First Amendment rights with them. You also have very little power when it comes to trying to take something back or get something taken down that’s about you {and} posted by some other person,” said Martin.

The other thing that users may not realize is that if they are accused of libel that’s on them.

Martin said, “I could put up anything on my Facebook page and it wouldn’t be fair to hold Facebook accountable, if I put a threat or something that’s libelous. But I think that’s why we have the feeling that we have the unfettered right to post, but it’s a mistaken feeling.”

Martin reminds social media users that they should know what they’re agreeing to when they sign up. Call it social media literacy.

“Everything from understanding what your rights are when you participate in these platforms to understanding how to vet something that you read to figure out is this credible information or is this just some guy spouting off his uninformed thoughts. People need both kinds of literacy,” said Martin.